10 Corso Como
If you’re overwhelmed by Milan’s shopping options, head to 10 Corso Como, a lifestyle boutique edited by local fashion diva Carla Sozzani. Ms. Sozzani, whose sister Franca was the editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue, has already chosen the best of the best, so all you have to do is browse the racks.
Agua del Carmen
You’ll find a quirky mix of youthful fashion and accessories at Agua del Carmen, a large one-room boutique that looks a bit like a Dalí painting.
This outpost of Florentine designer Angela Caputi showcases the bold jewelry that appears on models at many fashion shows. Using resins and organic materials, Caputi creates statement pieces that are inspired by nature and have an Italian flair.
Founded by chic Milanese shopper Antonia Giacinti more than a decade ago, Antonia has morphed from a multi-label fashion mecca into a mini-empire with outposts now devoted to accessories and men’s clothing. Everything is chosen by Antonia’s impeccable eye and love of style.
This well-known silversmith and jeweler stocks original and interesting pieces.
Designer Idarica Gazzoni has an incredible eye for colors and patterns, and her printed fabrics can be found in stylish homes all over the world. Her Milan shop is the only place where you can see the entire range. Pillows and a few objects are for sale; otherwise, all textiles are made to order.
ASAP (as sustainable as possible)
In Milan’s forest of mega-brands, it’s refreshing to find one that combines fashion and sustainability. ASAP uses recycled yarn and knit, i.e. top-quality materials that otherwise would go to waste. Quantities are small and include limited editions of cashmere, merino and jersey. The D collection, by designer Delfina Capuzzo, is a beautiful example of slow-wear: research, recycle, reduce, reuse.
This multi-brand boutique was designed by Italian architect Gae Aulenti (of Musée d’Orsay) and the fashion is curated and displayed in a way that evokes style as an art form. This is a great one-stop shop for fashion lovers who want to be of-the-moment but timeless, too.
Bernardini Luxury Vintage
One of our favorite black-belt shoppers raves about this treasure trove of vintage finds in Milan. Man-about-the-globe Max Bernardini collects with the eye of an old-world gentlemen and the bank account of a new-world money master. In his shop, which maintains a private-club-like atmosphere, you can browse vintage Cartier objects, museum-quality leather goods from houses including Vuitton and Hermès and plenty of the most sought-after antique Swiss watches.
Not to be confused with a local pasticceria by the same name, Biffi is fashion heaven with a wildly eclectic array of brands, from Acne denim to Lanvin couture, as well as a great selection of Italian labels, like Gianluca Capannolo (stylish tailoring), Lorena Antoniazzi (high-end knitwear) and Anna Baiguera (super-soft ballerina flats). The store on Corso Genova is in walking distance to pastry shop Cucchi and acclaimed restaurant Langosteria 10 for shoppers in need of a pick-me-up.
Around the corner from Wait and See, Carla Saibene Atelier is another one of Milan's 5 Vie district, which is full of smaller independent boutiques that offer personal and well-edited takes on fashion and accessories. This tiny atelier specializes in boho-chic fashion as well as items for the home.
Cavalli e Nastri
A must-shop for vintage, this mini-chain (there are three stores) is a great place for treasure hunting, particularly for dresses by everyone from Chanel to Versace. The newest boutique is in the fun Brera neighborhood, close to the Pinacoteca and down the street from the Mandarin Oriental, Armani and Bulgari hotels.
CB Made in Italy
Milanese designer Cecilia Bringheli launched this bespoke shoe company in 2010 after studying fashion trends as a PR consultant. She and her brother, Lorenzo, decided to create custom classic loafers. In their charming showroom, with exposed brick walls and club chairs, patrons can pick from flat loafers and slides (all named after Italian resort towns like Ravello and Positano) and choose their own fabrics and embellishments. Italian craftsmen customize each pair, cutting the leather soles and stitching on tassels, to create pieces that will stand the test of time. While most shoes are custom made, some models have become so popular that you can buy them in the shop.
Wander into this atelier/showroom and you are likely to find designer Davide Gatto at work on a new bag design. In this cozy, residential-like space, Gatto designs all of the pieces, using fine Italian leather and textiles. His bags are now carried in trendy boutiques elsewhere in Italy, but only here can you find the designer himself and possibly collaborate on a custom design.
Deus Ex Machina
The Australian cult brand, Deus Ex Machina has opened an outpost in a quirky and upcoming neighborhood of Milan called Isola. Originally geared towards bikers and surfers the brand signifies freedom and adventure and this concept store and its courtyard restaurant reflect these values.
Even more avant-garde than Spazio Rossana Orlandi is Dilmos, a design gallery that has the most exciting shows during the annual International Furniture Fair.
The Dmagazine Outlet features heavily discounted fashions by Italian designers.
The cult fashion brand launched with a small shop on via Sant’Andrea and has expanded to this more glamorous space and location, but it still attracts women looking for classic elegance. Think Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn or a strong antidote to Donatella for Versace. Understated classics in luxurious materials is what you will find here.
It’s not surprising that a team that includes the fashion guru Antonia Giacinti, wonder chef Davide Olandi and starchitect Jean Nouvel has created a store (really a mall) that has been called the best in the world. After all, it also happens to be in Milan. The building is a former movie palace reimagined by the famous French architect into a new form of commercial entertainment. On the ground floor, you will find Tom Ford, Lanvin and many established brands of cosmetics, technology and more. The first floor is home to up-and-coming designers like Rag & Bone and Roda; while the floors above are curated by Antonia with levels devoted to men, women and accessories. The result is space age meets Hollywood where fashion is fetishized here as art form, so we dare you to walk out empty handed especially if you venture to the basement where there is a fabulous slow food gourmet gallery and sushi restaurant. Open every day from 10 am to 8:30.
Since 1881 Pettinaroli Stationers have been in the printing business. Today, they also have original prints and gift ideas as well as paper stocks, cards and stationery.
A modern Italian stationery store with contemporary leather goods, bags, wallets, notebooks, pens and lovely original paper products, this is a great place for gifts.
Fay, known for its classic, tailored pieces, could be described as the Italian version of Burberry. Unlike the American brand’s global presence, though, Fay is only available in Italy. You can find their styles in Italian department stores, but this boutique carries the full selection. Their pieces are classic and understated with a nod to of-the-moment trends.
Located about 65 miles (107 km) southeast of Milan, this mall has a Main Street with shops of all kinds, from housewares to fashion and there are a few decent restaurants for a bite to eat. Some examples of brands selling here are Loro Piana, Dolce & Gabbana, Patrizia Pepe, Versace and Coccinelle.
On the last Sunday of each month, Milanese flock to the outdoor Flea Market, called the Mercatone dell’ Antiquariato, located along the waterway in the canal area near the Porta Genova train station. Il Naviglio Grande, the charming surrounding neighborhood, is home to vintage shops, cafés and ateliers. With its two canals (planned in part by Leonardo da Vinci), it is reminiscent of Venice. At the market you’ll find hundreds of vendors selling a jumble of paintings, Venetian goblets, vintage jewelry and old books.
Fifty miles (90 km) east of Milan, this outlet village has great prices with lots of brand name sportswear, accessories and clothing (though not the high-end brands that Fidenza Village offers).